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Thread: Solo builders

  1. #51

    Default Re: Solo builders

    Quote Originally Posted by ColdBeerGoCubs View Post
    <[attach[/attach]
    Elderly. The telltale sign was the Brock A5.
    There's nothing better than first-hand experience.

  2. #52

    Default Re: Solo builders

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobar View Post
    Elderly. The telltale sign was the Brock A5.
    You got it. Brought the Hamlett with me on this trip and decided to take it in there to compare to 'the wall'. The Pomeroy, Brock and varnish Collings were all outstanding. The Cohen was really interesting and I liked it a lot. To my ears (and a few others) the Hamlett set the bar.
    Gunga......Gunga.....Gu-Lunga

  3. #53

    Default Re: Solo builders

    Ranger Bob...that is quite true about Bruce's work.

  4. #54

    Default Re: Solo builders

    Here is a sobering thought. Forget buying a mandolin, take $50/week and find a really good teacher. Practice your butt off. Then take your mandolin and record something you recorded the year before. Think how much better it sounds. My mandolin sounded really good today. The fingers were working better than usual.
    Silverangel A
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

  5. #55

    Default Re: Solo builders

    +1 for a Buckeye by Pete Hart. I have #68, an F-5, from 2012, and the tone is remarkable. I have a ‘51 D-18 and a ‘57 D-28, both exceptional guitars, but I find that I usually pick up the Buckeye. He is now building A’s. #3 should be heading my way in a few months. Pete is great to work with, and one of the most honest and down-to-earth people I know. Never set up a website - he’s usually back-ordered, and if a used one comes for sale on Mandolin Cafe, it’s usually gone the next day. If you need Pete’s contact info, PM me. (I have no financial interest - they’re just great mandolins, priced at about half or less than similar quality instruments).

  6. #56

    Default Re: Solo builders

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    Here is a sobering thought. Forget buying a mandolin, take $50/week and find a really good teacher. Practice your butt off. Then take your mandolin and record something you recorded the year before. Think how much better it sounds. My mandolin sounded really good today. The fingers were working better than usual.
    Yes, but remember, the thread is about shopping for mandolins. The what if- player looking for a new mandolin, which solo builders would be on the list. There are a lot of good recommendations here.

    Although, you keep mentioning your Arches build kit. I am curious to hear what it sounds like. Is it the straight kit or did you modify and tweak the voicings? Can you post a sound clip, or a link to one?
    There's nothing better than first-hand experience.

  7. #57
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Solo builders

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    If you were going to shop for a new mandolin, new to you that is, in the five or six thousand range new or used, what luthiers would be on your radar along with the usual Collings, Gibson, Weber, Pava fare? How would you go about finding them?

    I was cruising Mandolin Mutt the other day and there were a bunch of interesting possibilities. Many of the name builders are twice that budget or close. I’m especially interested in hearing from those who have been happy jumping into the unknown. I did that with my Silverangel at a much more modest price point.

    The obvious is a trip to Nashville, but other than that?
    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    Here is a sobering thought. Forget buying a mandolin, take $50/week and find a really good teacher. Practice your butt off. Then take your mandolin and record something you recorded the year before. Think how much better it sounds. My mandolin sounded really good today. The fingers were working better than usual.
    Yes, but remember that the OP asked a question about acquiring a new mandolin. Oops! You were the OP! Hah! Are you just talking to your self?
    Jim

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  8. #58

    Default Re: Solo builders

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    Yes, but remember that the OP asked a question about acquiring a new mandolin. Oops! You were the OP! Hah! Are you just talking to your self?
    Early and often. I’m a technical dunce. All I can do is record, convert to MP3, and e mail. I built my kit to exact specs, which I believe was .180 graduated to .110 on the sides, and .135 or so tail block to neck. It was loud and bright from the get go, but has warmed up in the 18 months since. The two people I know who play out a lot both love it for it’s projection abilities. I’d be the first to caution against it for someone wanting a lush sound. I’ve often thought to buy a real Arches just to compare. This summer it will get out in the world a bit more, so hopefully I’ll get more input.

    But when I go shopping, the instruments I play, mostly new and this alone can be a huge factor, while sounding very good, don’t have the volume I’m used to. When in my backyard, I can be heard clearly three houses down for better or worse. So if I buy another mandolin, I’m willing to sacrifice volume for tone. The only mandolin that tempted me to think about it was an Ellis at $9500 used. Not going to happen. Circumstances preclude me from Grass Valley this year because of impending grandchild birth. I’d just like to continue trying as many brands as possible. The mandolin that I can afford that comes the closest so far is the Northfield Big Mon, more so if I find a used one. There are just so many more I’d like to try.

    And that leads me back to just learning to play better. Harsh advice to give oneself. Or ideally, both. LOL. But there is no reason to make it a competition other than meeting your own expectations. As for that, continued improvement is the more important of the two. As I am fond of discussing with a friend, there is a line connecting the worst and very best player, and except for those two, we are all somewhere in between. I strive to move along that line to the best of my abilities and dwell on the journey. I play the same thing for two different people, one will be amazed and the other will acknowledge I’m getting better. This of course depends on where they are on the line of progress which will never end, as the best continues to get better.

    I will continue to be delighted when I see something I’ve never played, and if I were better at release, I’d play catch.
    Silverangel A
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

  9. #59

    Default Re: Solo builders

    Br1ck, just an fyi, Soundcloud will allow you a free account, and will allow you, sans technical expertise to upload a sound file. You can then just attach a link to the mp3 file here on the Cafe in a thread. No real expertise required, especially if you can record mp3s. That’s generally the hard part of the process.

    https://soundcloud.com/
    There's nothing better than first-hand experience.

  10. #60
    Registered User Scotter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Solo builders

    There is so much more I would like to say in regards to this thread as I do think it's veering away from the OP's original question even if it is the OP who's helping to do the veering. I could write about how posting on forums can be it's own hobby that can distract from other hobbies like...learning to play mandolin. Or write about how everyone wants to find the best instrument that they can afford (no one wants to end up with a dud or lemon) and that learning to do this is an acquired skill much like learning to know your own likes and preferences or even like...learning to play mandolin. And, Br1ck, you seem to have a good head on your shoulders and I have a feeling you'll end up with a great instrument once you decide to make the leap.

    But in regards to "Solo Builders" I just had to share this story with y'all. Yesterday, during afternoon appointments I could feel my phone buzzing me with text messages. I quickly glanced at them in between appointments and found myself thinking the following: "Oh, it looks like Pete Hart of Buckeye Mandolins is texting me again. Something about Hot Tuna playing tonight and would I like to be on the guest list? Doesn't he remember that San Diego is a long way from Southeast Ohio?" Later, I remembered it seemed to say something about The Belly Up Tavern which is one of my favorite local venues. "Wait, Jorma is in town? Why didn't I know that? Oh, wait, the Fur Peace Ranch e-mail said he was going to be here soon. Why didn't I get tickets? Oh, yeah, probably because I have mandolin class tonight with Matt Flinner. Oh, he cancelled tonight's class, didn't he? And, isn't Pete's son, Myron, Jorma's guitar tech?" Again, in between appointments, I glance at the texts from Pete. "OK, I can be Myron's special guest and I'll get two free VIP passes to the already sold out show!" Once, I understood it all, I quickly texted, "Yes, Please!"

    It was a good showing of Electric Hot Tuna with Jack playing some great bass and Jorma wailing on a Gibson Firebird. It was really nice to see two Rock and Roll Hall of Famers up close in a small venue. And it was really cool watching Myron do his thing on stage and it was clear that he's good at what he does. I'm guessing that that's a family trait.

    Anyway, how often does your luthier comp you two free VIP passes to a sold out show?
    Play that which you feel is groovy, get down with your bad self, and shake your money maker if it makes sense for you to do so.

  11. #61
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Solo builders

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    But when I go shopping, the instruments I play, mostly new and this alone can be a huge factor, while sounding very good, don’t have the volume I’m used to. When in my backyard, I can be heard clearly three houses down for better or worse. So if I buy another mandolin, I’m willing to sacrifice volume for tone.
    Br1ck, so you have lots of mandolins that will give you the volume you want so you will accept a quieter mandolin if it has the tone you like.
    Jim

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  12. #62
    Registered User Pjones3's Avatar
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    Default Re: Solo builders

    Skip Kelley mandolins are incredible.

  13. #63
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Solo builders

    very happy with my Muth (Adi/maple)

    very happy with my Cohen (redwood/walnut)

    Would certainly consider Hamlett.

    Waiting on Wayne; however. . .

    f-d
    °papŠ gordo ainít no madre flaca!

    '20 A3, '30 L-1, '97 914, 2012 Cohen A5, 2012 Muth A5, '14 OM28A

  14. #64

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    I think my next mandolin will be less powerful than what Iíve got, but not drastically. Ellis fits the bill. LOL

    As for forum reading and participation being a hobby, sure. And for throwing out a new, old, topic for further discussion hoping to generate some more action and entertainment, sure. Sometimes it dies a quick death, sometimes it gets sixty replies. Ever join a forum with next to no participation, where the last post was two weeks ago? How often do you go back? Some topics seem so overdone one wonders why anyone would ever bother to read them, but how many replies has the latest Blue Chip thread gotten?

    But somewhere within, some useful tidbit can be gained from almost any thread. Look at how much information has been imparted on this one. I still remember, when I still had my Eastman, reading someoneís journey on a quest in the $20k range and thinking how absurd to spend that kind of money, but I learned a lot about the process and the seriousness of the hunt.

    Threads will get sidetracked. If the sidetrack is interesting, why not? This is entertainment after all, and we are free to participate or not. Iíve sought out a few YouTube clips of luthiers mentioned here I wouldnít have otherwise, and for that I thank all who have participated. Hopefully others are on the same hunt and benefited too.

    And yes, somewhere out there is a noob who thinks it ludicrous to spend $6k on a mandolin. Stick around. Your time will come.
    Silverangel A
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

  15. #65

    Default Re: Solo builders

    So, an Ellis is less powerful than your kit mandolin? Is that what you are saying? Or am I misinterpreting?

  16. #66

    Default Re: Solo builders

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobar View Post
    So, an Ellis is less powerful than your kit mandolin? Is that what you are saying? Or am I misinterpreting?
    Yes. Less powerful, but far superior in every other way. I could say that about many mandolins. The Ellis sounds better, plays better, looks better and would create envy better than anything else I've ever played. A true jewel. A giging mandolin friend played my mandolin with his band and said he had to lighten up on his attack compared to his Pava. I did a gig with him, a trio in a small room, and at soundcheck he said I really did not need to be amplified. I think it may be a frequency attribute as much as loudness. Freak of nature I guess.

    I'm just going to have to get on a plane to further my education.
    Silverangel A
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

  17. #67
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    Default Re: Solo builders

    Agree. Check out Marty Jacobson. He was a delight to work with and his work is beautiful visually and aurally.

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  19. #68

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    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    Yes. Less powerful, but far superior in every other way. I could say that about many mandolins. The Ellis sounds better, plays better, looks better and would create envy better than anything else I've ever played. A true jewel. A giging mandolin friend played my mandolin with his band and said he had to lighten up on his attack compared to his Pava. I did a gig with him, a trio in a small room, and at soundcheck he said I really did not need to be amplified. I think it may be a frequency attribute as much as loudness. Freak of nature I guess.

    I'm just going to have to get on a plane to further my education.
    You can start a lot closer to home. Schoenberg has an A3 Gil and an F5. Call and make an appointment to see those. I’m sure they have some other mandolins to compare yours to. He had a nice Dude A5 there for a while.
    There's nothing better than first-hand experience.

  20. #69

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    I know the Schoenberg shop, but I will not take up the time of someone to play an instrument I can not afford under the pretext that I can. I did play that Ellis and that was enough to teach me what possibilities exist in the realm of unobtainable. If I were in Carter’s tomorrow, I would not play anything 20% beyond my budget, but that would leave quite a few possibilities.

    I’m reasonably happy with what I’ve got and don’t want to be ruined by that I can’t afford, nor do I wish to subject an instrument to more possible risk to damage, or be known as an insufferable tire kicker. That is just my personal code of shop conduct that has served me well over the years.
    Silverangel A
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

  21. #70

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    Br1ck, you are a conundrum. You say you want an education in mandolins, bad enough to suggest buying a plane ticket and do some travel, but when presented with the opportunity to play several very rare and fine instruments located relatively close by to further that education, you back away. If you are only going to play mandolins that you believe you can afford then it’s not an education you are looking for. Now you are just shopping. And that’s not wrong, it’s just not an “education”. It’s more of a shopping experience than anything else.
    There's nothing better than first-hand experience.

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  23. #71
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    Default Re: Solo builders

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobar View Post
    Br1ck, you are a conundrum. You say you want an education in mandolins, bad enough to suggest buying a plane ticket and do some travel, but when presented with the opportunity to play several very rare and fine instruments located relatively close by to further that education, you back away. If you are only going to play mandolins that you believe you can afford then it’s not an education you are looking for. Now you are just shopping. And that’s not wrong, it’s just not an “education”. It’s more of a shopping experience than anything else.
    Exactly ! This is the reason I went to Gruhn's years ago to play as many top end ovals I could and several were not within my price range at the time or should I say within my wife's allowance ! I found at a much reasonable price a Girouard that sounded better than any top end mandolin I played ! So, one Girouard A oval later and a soon to be delivered Girouard F4 I am quite happy !
    My two favorite pastimes are drinking wine and playing the mandolin but most of my friends would rather hear me drink wine! Adapted from quote by Mark Twain------supposedly !

  24. #72
    Registered User Scotter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Solo builders

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post

    But somewhere within, some useful tidbit can be gained from almost any thread. Look at how much information has been imparted on this one. I still remember, when I still had my Eastman, reading someoneís journey on a quest in the $20k range and thinking how absurd to spend that kind of money, but I learned a lot about the process and the seriousness of the hunt.

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    And yes, somewhere out there is a noob who thinks it ludicrous to spend $6k on a mandolin. Stick around. Your time will come.
    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    I know the Schoenberg shop, but I will not take up the time of someone to play an instrument I can not afford under the pretext that I can. I did play that Ellis and that was enough to teach me what possibilities exist in the realm of unobtainable. If I were in Carterís tomorrow, I would not play anything 20% beyond my budget, but that would leave quite a few possibilities.

    Iím reasonably happy with what Iíve got and donít want to be ruined by that I canít afford, nor do I wish to subject an instrument to more possible risk to damage, or be known as an insufferable tire kicker. That is just my personal code of shop conduct that has served me well over the years.
    I agree with others here in that not only are you veering but you're starting to contradicting yourself. While everyone, including shop owners and other players, will admire your desire to not be an insufferable tire kicker, reasonable shop owners and other players realize that you have to kick some tires along the way to discover your own likes and preferences (after all, they likely went through a similar process themselves). It's just another skill that we all have to acquire in our musical journey and all of us owe a big thanks to the patient shop owners, sellers, and other players with better instruments who let us give it a go at one time. There's nothing wrong with saying something like, "Well, Eric, I don't think I can afford that Giacomel J-5 right now but I've always wanted to know if that's the mandolin for me. Would you mind if I play it?" The worst that can happen is that he might say no.

    But, since you seem to have a reasonable head on your shoulders, it's more likely that both you and Eric might have a few laughs trading licks on that gorgeous funky looking piece of Italian craftsmanship. In the process he might offer up another mandolin not yet listed on the website that's more in line with your preferences and/or budget. He or someone else in the store might suggest a musical artist worth listening to based on your own style of playing. You might even find yourself in an impromptu jam learning a few new chords or progressions. In the end it's entirely possible that all that tire kicking helped you to realize that your Arches kit is the mandolin you were meant to play all along.

    Get out there and play them 8 string thangs! You only get so many trips around the Sun.
    Play that which you feel is groovy, get down with your bad self, and shake your money maker if it makes sense for you to do so.

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  26. #73
    Registered User sblock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Solo builders

    Like the OP, I also live in the Bay Area, near Gryphon. I had an occasion to visit Nashville a few years back (to deliver a talk), and while I was there, I had the privilege of making a pilgrimage to Carter Vintage Guitars. Howard and Christie Carter could not possibly have been nicer, and I got to play some mandolins that were way above my price range, both then and now. These included Lloyd Loar-signed Gibsons, as well as mandolins by Gilchrist, Monteleone, Nugget, Henderson, Ellis, Altman, Brentrup, and more. I also played plenty of instruments that I could actually afford. I didn't wind up purchasing anything at the time, but it was a terrific musical education for me. But someday... Anyway, I highly recommend this experience to all my fellow mandolinists. You will definitely "calibrate" your ears, and hear the possibilities. To me, this was an unforgettable experience that I still cherish.

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  28. #74

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    To each his own, but I see no reason to test drive a Porsche when Iím going to end up with a Honda, just to sit in my Honda and dream I could afford a Porsche. Iím quite confident I could find a $6k mandolin that would make me very happy. I have a friend that keeps bringing up how good that pre war Martin D 45 he played was. Almost every conversation we have about guitar tone. It was a mere $120,000.

    My spending limits are mostly self imposed. Iíve resolved to be asset neutral, sell to buy, and this conservative approach has served me well. It was bad enough to play that Ellis, which in truth I could have bought. If you aspire to being a geologist, there is no need to get a doctorate in English literature to write your papers. So conundrum? Sure. I have set self imposed rules that are fair to my wife. Should she pass on before me, those rules will surelybe be rewritten. Then Iíll go buy a Gilchrist.

    Half of me is perfectly happy with what Iíve got. Such contradiction is inherent in the human condition. I had an old Chinese boss years ago that railed against what he called the luxury life. Heíd seen the worst of what mankind had to offer, and realized what was truly important. Iíve always remembered him. Iíd classify expensive mandolins as a luxury.
    Silverangel A
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

  29. #75
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Solo builders

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    Iíd classify expensive mandolins as a luxury.
    Plural, right?
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